Favorites, Contenders and Pretenders

Posted on 11/27/2010 by


We’ve spent some time this week talking about the past, let’s get back to present. In the preseason, I, with the assistance of my readers came up with the Championship Equation which set out to establish the necessary (but not sufficient) conditions for building a championship team. The intent was to have an edge in quickly identifying and separating the title favorites, the contenders and the pretenders (go here for the Basics). The simple version of the equation now reads as follows:

To win or contend for a championship a team must:

  • Win 52 or more games
  • Have two star points (either >2 Stars, > Star + Superstar or > 2 Superstars) in your Playoff Top 6. A star is >.200 WP48 Player, a Superstar is a >.300 Wp48 Player
  • Have at least one .140 WP48 player who plays PF or Center in your Playoff Top 6 (credit to some dude and we’ll call it the Suns Corollary)
  • A superstar puts you in the conversation if you can make it into the playoffs and surround him with talent (i.e no duds) in the top 6 (credit to Neal Frazier and we’ll call it the Hakeem Factor).

With this set of conditions in hand and the date for player performance in 2011 so far, we should be able to identify the favorites, contenders and pretenders. As always, numbers and tables are  All Powered by Nerd Numbers.

Stars and Superstars for 2011 (so far)

We’ve talk about the sufficiency of a sample size for the NBA. Right now there’s about a 75% correlation between the current player productivity and the year end one. So Players now for the most part are who they are.  I’m ranking the players by WP48, counting only those who played 100 minutes and assigning superstars (>=.300 WP48) 2 points and stars (>=.200 WP48) 1 points. I’m also identifying quality bigs (>.140 Wp48). It looks like this:

Between Superstars,Stars and Quality bigs we have 66 players: 12 Superstars, 30 Stars and 50 quality bigs.  There are some major surprises on this list. Reggie Evans, Kris Humpries, the totally for real Landry Fields and Matt Barnes as superstars. JaVale McGee (bailing out the Wizards) , Melo (proving his critics wrong), Lebron (not playing to his potential), Zombie Shaq (coming back from the dead),  Hibbert (carrying Indiana) and Shannon Brown as stars.

The Rankings

Ok, let’s tabulate the results. I’m going to get each teams Star Points, Quality Bigs and Wins Produced projected to 82 games. Then, I’ll use the rules to sort the teams. It looks like this:

There’s seven teams that have separated themselves from the pack: The Lakers, Spurs, Celtics  (the clear favorites), Orlando, Hornets, Dallas (the dark horses) and Chicago (who I’m giving extra credit for getting it done with no Boozer and is the only team that worries me in the East as a Celts fan). The contender group is composed of teams that are not there yet but are lurking: disappointing Miami & Portland (My preseason favorites both decimated by injuries who will probably improve), surprising Indiana (Really WTF?!??!) and the usual suspects in Denver,Utah & Atlanta.

As for the rest, I would have called the Raptors, the Thunder and Knicks the teams most likely to jump up until the Evans injury took out the Raptors (sorry Devin, by my numbers they’re now the worst team in the league). The Knicks and Thunder both need a star player to come back to form (Amare & Durant) of the two my money’s on Durant.

Enjoy the leftovers everyone.

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